History writer Marc Wortman has made the sensational and dubious claim that British spies killed two New York policemen in order to change public opinion and bring the United States into the Second World War on the Allied side.
Wortman believes that Winston Churchill sent spy Canadian-born Sir William Stephenson to stoke up trouble; the man that Ian Fleming of the James Bond modelled 007 on was no ordinary man and Flemming once described him as “very tough, very rich, single-minded, patriotic, and a man of few words.”
He was a decorated pilot during the Great War and highly regarded by the British Government.
Officially he was tasked with heading up the new British Security Coordination and his offices were sequestered away in Britain’s Passport Control in the Rockefeller Center
As thousands of Americans enjoyed Independence Day in the USA’s most iconic city two cops and five passersby were killed when an explosion ripped through New York World’s Fair.
The World Fair was an attempt to showcase culture from all the countries of the world - notably Nazi Germany declined to take part - but what should have been a happy family day out for many was turned into a day of terror.
No one was ever convicted of the crime but at the time many suspected Nazi Germany was behind it - even though it was more than a year before the United States declared war on the country.
Others blamed Irish republicans and some suspected French nationalist had targeted the British exhibit in anger at its treatment of their Navy after French capitulation to the Nazis.
“It’s a cold case, but still an open case,” New York City Police Lieutenant Bernard Whalen told Wortman.
“There was a massive investigation at the time. The FBI was involved.”
A reward for $1,000 for information leading to the conviction of the culprit was offered by the police union and a further $25,000 was added by New York City. In today’s money such a sum would equal $450,000 but no one has ever been able to claim it.
“New York City turned virtually the full force of its police power…on the search for the bomber,” the New York Times reported the next day.
Whalen pins the blame on the staff working at the nearby British Pavilion - “You could draw the conclusion that it was an inside job,” he said without further elaborating.
Of all the cops to work on the case, he’s the only one to have reached such a head scratching conclusion.
H/T: Daily Beast